SA's best pizza can be found in Franschhoek

Chef Neil Jewell from Bread & Wine will represent South Africa at the Pizza World Cup in Australia 

A pizza with Karoo lamb, aubergine, Peppadews, Buchu and a sweet sauce. Yuk or Yum?

The above ingredients are the basics needed to make the best pizza in South Africa. Yes, it’s true. We had to experience it for real. So we set out to Franschhoek to try the pizza in question for ourselves.

The verdict: Yum.

The South African Chefs Association thought so too at the beginning of March during the 2010 Global Pizza Challenge (GPC) at the Cape Town Convention Centre. The recipe is the creation of Neil Jewell, a top British chef who has been causing a stir in Cape Town over the last ten years with his charcuterie offerings and other delicious things at the Bread & Wine Deli in Franschhoek.

“I wanted to do something different with the pizza, have fun and create a pizza with only South African ingredients.”

Neil – one of the most down to earth chefs around, sees it as an honour to be able to represent South Africa during the World Championships in May next year in Melbourne.

Charcuterie Platters in the Winelands

Neil has changed the local culinary scene by bringing his passion for charcuterie to Franschhoek. He makes Parma ham, Mortedella, Chorizo, Coppa – and more of those sorts of meaty delights – prepared and smoked in his own traditional and natural way. The charcuterie platters at Bread & Wine also covers Scotch eggs and chicken liver parfait. Great with a glass of Môreson Merlot, which is also produced on the Môreson Estate where the restaurant finds its home.

At the end of the’90s Franschhoek and the rest of the Winelands were exposed to Neil’s cured meat for the first time. Today a variety of top restaurants in the Cape area uses the meat form Neil Jewell’s hand, including Jardine and Caveau in Cape Town.

Bread & Wine: Franschhoek’s delightful deli

In England Neil worked for a variety of Michelin starred restaurants. After a holiday in South Africa in 1998 he was hooked: “I realised that I wanted to live here”.

Together with his wife Tina – who manages the restaurant – and his two young kids, he has now been living in the Cape Winelands for almost ten years. Bread & Wine is a small deli with a dining terrace, where magic happens on the palate. In comparison with all the other spectacular restaurants in the Franschhoek area, which is also the gourmet capital of the Cape, Bread & Wine is probably one of the least pretentious places, where the food is just as good. Lunch is simple and quick, as well as diverse and chic. The winelist offers as much local variety as the bread, meat and other delicatessens which are sold in the small shop attached to the restaurant.

In May Neil will check in for a flight to Melbourne. How he will get all of the authentic South African ingredients for his pizza there is another story. He is looking at producers in Melbourne who can possibly suppply him if all else fails, but he is adament that he will at least try to take the real South African products accross the border. From packing the produce in layers and layers of cling wrap and sprinkling it with lemon juice to confuse the sniffer dogs at Melbourne airport to finding Australian producers as a backup - a variety of possible options are being weighed up. All in the quest to bring the ‘Best Pizza in the World’ award back to Franschhoek.

Neil promised to sms us immediately if he happens to be the proud winner in Aurtralia. We’ll keep you posted!

By Inge Abraham & Lize de Kock | Photographs by Inge Abraham

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New: Pizza and neon signs at I Love the Dough in Bree Street.

Love pizza? Read our overview of the best pizzas in Cape Town.

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